Record-Breaking Heat Grips India Amid Rash of Farmer Suicides

Temperatures in India reached a record-breaking 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit Friday, according to the Associated Press, suffocating parts of the country, and drawing further attention to a tragic rash of suicide deaths among the nation’s impoverished farmers, who are battling drought and other environmental conditions that stifle agricultural production… "The heat wave in India is another example that our climate is changing," said Ben Horton, a scientist at the University of Rutgers who focuses on climate change. "We are now experiencing climate extremes that include droughts, wildfires, flood, storms, and tropical cyclones as well."

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John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Fund Award – John Gerwig’s Remarks

John Gerwig speaking at the first John and Anne Gerwid Directors Fund awards

John Gerwig speaking at the first John and Anne Gerwig Directors Fund awards

Dr. John L. Gerwig, Director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension 1962 – 1992, gave the following remarks on May 4, 2016 at the first awards presented to Cooperative Extension Faculty from the John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Fund.

“I learned long ago that if you make short comments that they can’t be all wrong.  First I would like to congratulate all of the recipients of the awards here today.  We never do enough to recognize outstanding work.  As you know we are celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Rutgers.  Some think that I am so old that I was here when it was founded.  I have been associated with Rutgers for 64 years.  That is 25% of the time that Rutgers has existed.

“When I first came to the Rutgers campus in 1952, I was lucky enough to know some of the early Faculty members that made an outstanding contribution toward the betterment of mankind.  My office was in Lipman Hall and Dr. Selman Waksman, who discovered antibiotics that wiped out T.B., was housed in that building as well. It was a soil sample taken from the area where the dairy barn is located that contained the antibiotic that became known as Streptomycin.  Lipman Hall was named for Dr. Jacob Lipman who was one of the early deans of the College of Agriculture, the forerunner of the present school.  Another famous member of the faculty was Dr. Schermerhorn who selected the famous Rutgers tomato which has now been resurrected and will be grown on farms and gardens throughout the world.  The Rutgers tomato has probably done more to put Rutgers on the map than any other contribution.  The Rutgers tomato was grown in our garden where I grew up and was what I knew about Rutgers until I came here to teach in 1952.  There was Dr. Blake who made New Jersey famous for the peach varieties that still make up a large part of the peach acreage in Eastern U.S.  There was Enos Perry that introduced artificial breeding in the country.  This was a major factor in raising the milk production in the U.S.  It also decreased the injury among dairymen because dealing with dairy bulls was a major contribution to the injury of dairymen on the farm.  These pioneers and others like them established the basis of our heritage. [Read more…]

What’s in Season from the Garden State: The Historic Rutgers Tomato Gets Re-invented in University’s 250th Anniversary Year

Breeder of the 'Rutgers' tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s).

Of the hundreds of varieties of tomatoes grown by home gardeners or commercial growers, there are a few standards that have become household names. One of those is the ‘Rutgers’ tomato – a leading home garden and processing variety of the 20th century. While the Rutgers tomato is no longer commercially grown for canned tomato production, it is still a favorite among home gardeners and widely available from seed catalogs and garden centers.

The development of the Rutgers tomato is a lesson in the history of the early 20th century industries of canning and agriculture and a chapter in the story of the famed Jersey tomato. Introduced in 1934 by Rutgers vegetable breeder Lyman Schermerhorn, the variety was named for the university where it was developed. The name, however, belies the tomato’s origins, for the original cross was made at the Campbell Soup Company in 1928, with leading processing tomatoes as the parent varieties. In cooperation with Campbell’s, Schermerhorn selected the best plants from the cross and for the next six years conducted field tests on New Jersey farms and made further selections until in 1934 the most superior selection was released as the ‘Rutgers’ tomato.

At the time of the tomato release, the tomato canning industry was predominant in New Jersey, which went hand in hand with local tomato production. In the book Souper Tomatoes, author Andrew F. Smith described the industry as it first gained a foothold in New Jersey in the late 1800s, “Most farms in southern New Jersey from Trenton to Cape May cultivated tomatoes…Wagons and carriages of every description filled the roads on their way to the canneries. The roads were virtually painted red with squashed tomatoes that fell from the wagons. Most towns had one or more canneries.” [Read more…]

Terra Tech’s Subsidiary, Edible Garden, Signs Exclusive Agreement with Nutrasorb to Produce and Commercialize Nutrient-Rich Salad Blend

Terra Tech Corp. announced that its subsidiary, Edible Garden, a retail seller of locally grown hydroponic produce, herbs, and floral products, has signed an exclusive license agreement with Nutrasorb LLC, a spin-off of Rutgers University, to grow and commercialize nutritionally-enhanced lettuce varieties… "This is the first nutrient rich, health promoting, super salad blend, and we are excited to partner with Edible Garden on this initiative," said Dr. Ilya Raskin, Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University, School of Environmental & Biological Sciences and Chair & Managing Partner of Nutrasorb.

Read the entire article at PR Newswire »

Rutgers NJAES Board of Managers Hosts Rutgers Research Tour

Jim Simon (far left) gave the Rutgers NJAES Board of Managers and guests a tour of his greenhouse research.

Prof. Jim Simon (far left) gave the Rutgers NJAES Board of Managers and guests a tour of his campus greenhouse.

The Board of Managers (BOM), an advisory group to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), is made up of representatives from New Jersey’s county boards of agriculture. The BOM also serves as advocate for the experiment station and provides input to NJAES’ directors on matters concerning the state’s agricultural enterprise. In addition to quarterly board meetings where members listen to faculty talk about their programs, the BOM hosts an annual tour of NJAES research facilities to get an in-depth perspective of the agricultural research conducted by Rutgers faculty. The BOM representatives invite fellow county board of ag members as well as county legislators and state ag officials to attend the tour. The 2016 tour took place on March 24 and encompassed research conducted on the George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick and at the Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown, NJ. The county representatives were joined by Al Murray, assistant secretary of agriculture, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and Peter Furey, executive director, New Jersey Farm Bureau. [Read more…]

In a Midwestern cornfield, a scene of Chinese theft and espionage

United States law enforcement agencies are a urging farmers and businesses more broadly to be increasingly vigilant amid a rise in attempted thefts of genetically engineered seed and other commercial secrets… Carl Pray, a Rutgers University economist who specializes in Chinese agriculture, told the Monitor that "it may not ease the concerns of consumers who are largely focused on food safety."

Read the entire article at The Christian Science Monitor »

Rutgers 250 – NJAES Breed of the Month: Tomatoes

RUTGERS250_CMYK 3 inThis year, Rutgers University is commemorating its 250-year anniversary. To celebrate, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station is selecting a plant bred at Rutgers as a Rutgers 250 Variety of the Month for each month of the year. This month’s variety (April 2016) is the Rutgers 250TM tomato! Rutgers’ tomato breeding program has been selecting for superior traits and improved genetics for generations.

Starting in the 1920s, tomato breeders have been using traditional, non-GMO breeding techniques to develop the best tomatoes for New Jersey’s ever-changing climate. Mainly focusing on red, fresh market and processing tomatoes, Rutgers tomato breeding efforts have also expanded to include smaller grape and pear-type tomatoes in the last decade. However, the main focus is to produce classic, high quality tomatoes that are suitable for the Northeast. [Read more…]

Cold temperatures are hurting N.J. fruit crop, experts say

Temperatures dipped to 23 degrees Monday night at the Snyder Research Farm, said Rutgers Professor Emeritus Win Cowgill, leading to fears that the cold will damage this year’s fruit tree crops around the state.

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The humble dung beetle is a great ally in the fight against climate change

A life surrounded by and living in crap has its benefits – if you’re a dung beetle. That life is also a boon to livestock, us, and our planet. The dung beetle, who spends its days living, eating, and reproducing in poop, is a master at waste management… Today, many entomologists and farmers have high praise for dung beetles. "They are the good guys," George Hamilton, PhD and chair of the Department of Entomology at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, said. "We have them here in New Jersey. On farms they aerate and consume decomposing manure. Without them, decomposition wouldn’t happen as quickly as it does now."

Read the entire article at Fusion »

GARDENER STATE: Jersey Fresh: Loud and proud!

Jersey Fresh. Now, you might be thinking this may be more about that stray salad item that landed on your lap or the food fight tomato or pie in the face? While those may be embarrassing or even a bit funny, this is really about promoting NJ agriculture long before your backyard garden is ready for harvest… Now that the onion grass has started poking through your lawn and thoughts of gardeners everywhere turn to tilling the great outdoors, Rutgers Master Gardener programs across the state have opened their Garden Helplines. With weekday hours available for calls, emails, and of course walk-in gardening and landscape questions, these trained volunteers of Rutgers Cooperative Extension will research and assist in finding the solution to insect, disease, soil health, and many other seasonal questions.

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